Monday, January 21, 2008

Stand (The Kennedys)

"It's in moments like these that memories are made" ~ my new friend Esther Golton

The following statement was uttered during a monsoon at 5:30 a.m., in which we were attempting to reattach the rainfly to our tent (which was breathing like the door in The Haunting of Hill House), re-stake the corners and reclaim even a few square feet of dry ground - it was right after I ran barefoot across a large field to the porta-potties and right before we decided to wake up my folk daughters (Megan and Becca) in the tent next door and bail to my house (20 minutes away) for a few blessed hours. We never lost our sense of humor - we continued to laugh, even when (or maybe because) we were living on fumes, minimal sleep and music overload...

But I digress... :-)

As I mentioned in my previous post, this past weekend was the South Florida Folk Festival - I am on corestaff and I must admit to more than a bit of selfishness, as I made sure I had jobs that could be accomplished before the festival began so I could enjoy the music. My tasks were to choose two judges for our songwriting competition (Esther was one), serve on the Artist Selection Committee (a full day of listening to 90 entries, narrowing down to 30, including the amazing Danny Schmidt) and compiling information/editing/proofreading the festival program - all missions accomplished (and not in that Iraq War kinda way), such that I could appreciate the fruits of the collective labor...

We were rusty after a two-year hurricane-imposed hiatus, not to mention reinventing the wheel by relocating to a different park, and the familiar processes of the county soon morphed into one flaming hoop after another of permits and inspections and fees - oh my!

All hardship was quickly forgotten in the set-up of our camp (affectionately termed Estrogen Row!) the Friday before (I learned I have a three-tent quota before my body protests), the first notes of music on the Flamingo Stage noon Saturday, the 1-2-3 punch of Danny followed by Nick Annis followed by John William Davis on the Gator Stage Sunday... and Brian's bread passed liberally throughout the 72 hours - the last notes of festival music for me were Esther's dulcimer and stunning voice, playing a few songs she knew I'd love (Dave Carter's Elvis Presley and Christine Kane's Overjoyed) followed by another few I requested (one of her originals and Danny's Happy All the Time... :-)

More memory moments:

~ Annie Wenz's energy and light... and the lovely moon with purple stone necklace she gave me...

~ Friday's hot pink sunset...

~ blue crab burritos, whose motto was "let us roll you a fat one"... :-)

~ Amy Carol Webb's new Welcome Home song...

~ Saturday's gorgeous weather...

~ Laurie and Dana's grins of joy...

~ Sunday's cold snap allowing me to don my favorite hat, which I never get to wear under normal Florida circumstances...

~ buying three of Christine's (from Friction Farm) scarves she crocheted for Rachel Bissex's White Light Fund, and gifting Megan with one (The Kennedys, her favorite!)...

~ meeting Esther, who I initially began an e-mail correspondence with in 2002 when I was booking Michael McNevin and she was with Whole Wheat Radio (an internet radio station in Talkeetna, Alaska she co-founded)... and appreciating the synchronicity that brought her to South Florida six years later so we could have conversations in real-time and I could finally see what a serene, beautiful and wise woman she is in person as well...

~ brainstorming upcoming Labyrinth Cafe match-ups from the talented array of festival performers...

~ beaming with pride seeing Nancy, volunteer coordinator extraordinaire, zip around the park in her yellow Beetle cart, making the puzzle fittings of 150 volunteers appear easy...

~ a foamy cappuccino and buttery croissant breakfast, served by John at his camping picnic table...

~ hanging, laughing and dishing with Melanie all weekend...

~ watching the audience fall in love with Zoe Lewis, and knowing I helped orchestrate her festival appearance...

~ a falafel with hummus and cucumber sauce...

~ hearing The Kennedys dedicate their set to John Stewart (the singer, not the comic) who died early Saturday morning, and realizing why a friend seemed melancholy all weekend...

~ Homestead cinnamon buns ("are you a biter or a peeler?") - enough said!

~ feeling honored when a different friend sobbed on my shoulder, 10 minutes into the songwriter competition, and said, "we did it... we really did it"...

~ late-night song circles, accompanied by sips of Dave's "apple pie", Jamison Irish Whisky and chai liqueur...

~ Mixed blessings: porta-potties with fresh toilet paper... and mirrors (who wants to see what they look like after three days of camping?!?)...

~ the lovely festival program in which, after hours of crossed-eyes, I still found one typo!

And you know... there may be more, but that's enough - we made mistakes, but we did many things right... and I'm already looking forward to next year... :-)

P.S. When Esther played for me Sunday night, she told me that after she discovered my blog mid-December (via Christine Kane's blog), she mentioned it to Jim and he added it to Whole Wheat Radio's RSS feed - I am beyond honored/pleased/surprised (wow)...

SONG: Stand by The Kennedys

BOOK: Hot Jams & Cold Showers : Scenes from the Kerrville Folk Festival by Dyanne Fry Cortez, David Amram (Foreword)

POEM: Solar by Thomas Centolella

On a gray day, when the sun
has been abducted, and it's chill
end-of-the-world weather,
I must be the sun.
I must be the one
to encourage the young
sidetracked physicist
working his father's cash register
to come up with a law of nature
that says brain waves can change
the dismal sky. I must be the one
to remind the ginger plant
not to rest on the reputation
of its pungent roots, but to unveil
those buttery tendrils from the other world.

When the sky is an iron lid
I must be the one to simmer
in the piquant juices of possibility,
though the ingredients are unknown
and the day begins with a yawn.
I must issue forth a warmth
without discrimination, and any guarantee
it will come back to me.

On a dark day I must be willing
to keep my disposition light,
I have to be at the very least
one stray intact ray
of local energy, one small
but critical fraction
of illumination. Even on a day
that doesn't look gray
but still lacks comfort or sense,
I have to be the sun,
I have to shine as if
sorry life itself depended on it.

I have to make all the difference.

QUOTE: "I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live." ~ George Bernard Shaw


  1. I think my ears were wiggling in a happy way when I read this, Susan. Thanks for weaving me so lovingly into this entry. I'm so glad I was there to be part of this story... and to have met you, sung for you, and laughed with you. It was definitely meant to be! :-) Love, Esther

  2. Hey, Esther ~

    Our paths were always meant to cross - I'm glad it finally happened!

    Thanks for being such a special part of my already-amazing festival experience - I look forward to continued friendship and music (is that a redundancy?... :-)

  3. Wow! Your description of all the fun leaves my very jealous that I live so far away. But at least I could live vicariously through your words. Thanks.

  4. Hey, Cathy ~

    Thanks for your kind words - so... next year, you and Brad will have to plan to attend (chisel Martin Luther King weekend, January 17/18, 2009, on your calendar now, okay?... :-)

  5. Thanks for the kind words about Whole Wheat Radio ... and for taking care of Esther. Serene???? :-0

    Not only do we post entries from your blog, we sometimes read them on-air too. Double :-0

  6. Hey, Jim ~

    You read my blog posts on the air as well?!? (gulp) - so much for my delusions of anonymity... :-)

    What's amazing about Esther (and I obviously know I'm preaching to the proverbial choir here) is that she pendulums so beautifully from serenity (when she's singing) to full-blown hilarity (when she's not) - gotta love that in a person!

    She certainly made lots of new friends/fans during her Florida visit - we're already plotting a future Fifth Annual Going Out of Business House Concert for her in my living room... :-)

  7. Delusions of anonymity, indeed. The internet does not allow for such things. But that's the lovely thing -- at its best, it is simply an extension of the face-to-face community.

    Thanks again for incorporating us folk travelers into your festival; it was warm in all kinds of ways.

    ~'becca d.

  8. Hey, 'becca ~

    We have certainly learned on the Dar-list (and various other fan discussion boards) that it's quite easy and natural to translate cyber-pals into real-life friendships - it was a delight to have you and Megan here, sharing your dear selves with my South Florida community... <3

    Thanks again for the lovely windchime - it looks fabulous on the patio!